Starting Point: His Holiness and the Egg


Another day at the Temple of Universal Rapture. Another day of meditation and self-flagellation. Another day of collecting and distributing alms to the families of our fallen warriors. Another day of forcing confessions from captured rebels. Another day of thanking the Almighty for the trials and punishments meted out to us. Another day of praying for the Great Egg to hatch and unleash a dreadful holy serpent that will devour all life in the universe.

Except that today is busier than most. Today, His Holiness The Great Listener is emerging from his isolation chamber to make a speech, and the entire city is determined to hear the words live, straight from the Almighty via His Majesty’s mouth, and via our top-of-the-line multimedia system.

Faith has never been so important to our people as it has been in recent years. Ever since the Hargor unleashed their terrible new weapon, more citizens have been coming to the temple than ever before. They come seeking solace and communion, both with eachother and with the almighty. They come to report the sins of their neighbours, fearing them to be rebels and atheists and Hargor sympathisers. They come to pray for their conscripted loved ones and wish them a swift and glorious death in battle, and they come to enjoy our beautiful gardens and tea rooms.

Most of all, they come with questions. They come to ask the advice of one of my order, to pick our brains and share in our wisdom, and to have their faith bolstered by our own.

Providing them with what they want is surprisingly easy, even though I have no faith or answers of my own. They’ll take any old nonsense from the mouth of a monk and assume it has some great significance they are too stupid to understand.

Yes, you heard me correctly, I have no faith.

It’s not something I would ever dare to admit publicly, of course, but here in the sound-proofed isolation chamber I feel safe to voice my thoughts freely. Here, nobody can hear me but you and the Almighty himself, and that’s OK because He doesn’t exist. Neither does the Great Egg, or the planet-eating serpent, or the His Holiness’s supposed powers of divination. It’s all a load of ogsnobocks, and I’ve always known it to be so.

Even as a child I saw through the lies, and my school preistmaster took great pleasure in beating me with his sceptre until I professed otherwise.

How did that defiant little atheist boy come to devote his life to religious service? Well now, that’s an interesting story…

How would you continue this story?

As always, let us know your thoughts and divinations in the comments below.

Written by Mark Ball.
Artwork by Isra Carrion.

  • michael pulleine

    hmm, magical space pope discovers that his god is real!

  • John H Reiher Jr

    Sounds like a conman found his calling. I wonder is the narrator is one who actually has a broadcast sermon on the vids. They are especially deceitful. And I bet he hasn’t taken a vow of poverty or chastity.

    Cynical? Naw, just realistic.

  • One of my most favorite SF Stories by Robert A. Heinlein about “Religion” is
    The Sixth Column. An awesome read.

    • Kirov

      I’ve been trying to decide which Heinlein book to read next. I guess I’ll have to put this on the list now that you’ve recommended it.

  • michael pulleine

    if christianity was about the adventures of the magical space pope and his science fiction egg of sci-fi-ness then i would go to church so hard.

    • michael pulleine

      i just realised that this story is easter themed!

      • Haha! I didn’t realize until after I’d written it. A happy coincidence.

  • John Hawkins

    I got an initial impression of them worshiping some kind of technology. Perhaps the egg is some kind of super weapon, and the snake it’s projectile? Perhaps the religion uses alien artifacts as well, a bit like how Ra used his ZPM in SG1.

  • DT Krippene

    I think the story explores the basic question of
    “difference.” If you areChristian, you have thousands of sects to choose from (not to pick on them, butChristianity is the most differentiated religion I know of). Herein lies theconundrum. When an individual strays from the pack, especially one as ingrained as your story suggests, “burning at the stake” comes to mind for those don’t follow the party line. It’s a good start. But let’s explore why our protag feels the way he does. What brought him to this point?

  • Covertwalrus

    I’m thinking “The Way Of Cross And Dragon” by GRRM in which faith and imagination are suggested to be reliant upon one another.
    I think I’d move in a similar direction – While the protagonist has no faith, he sees how important it is to others and at first he exploits it for gain. Slowly, he comes to realize that for many the need for faith is a vital one and that his “con’ is in some ways a service, like a form of therapy.

  • JeredNA

    he never had a good experience with the religion. the priestmaster at his school used to beat him as said but also used to touch other children. His family all kept poor faith although none of them were openly atheists and moved to another neighborhood to escape scrutiny. however not long after they moved suspicion began to fall upon his family, accusations of atheism became popular and one night a priest lead a group of militant worshipers of the great egg into his house to kill his parents. the main character hides while his parents are killed and after that he falls of the grid, he learns that his parents really were atheists and becomes a monk so he can hide within the religion until he has the chance to avenge his parents with the death of their killer, the man who led the militants into their house and slashed their throats. His Holiness The Great Listener.

  • Sedat Engin

    He is actually the brilliant brain behind the terrible new weapon and many other scientific success of Hargor but it was never his intention to use these tech as weapons for greed. When all his lifetime work had started being used by administration of Hargor, he fakes his death and leaves Hargor. Over the time his self redeem creates the idea of the great egg for the loosing side to give them a better chance to win the war with the power of faith. He is the hidden voice of the great listener. His disguise will be found out by his past unfaithful lover from Hargor and he will now need to lead the residents of temple of universal rapture, for his second coming back to Hargor in order to destroy what he started.